Erik and Geri currently live in beautiful Palm Coast, Florida with three of their four kids – two daughters (24 & 16) and one son (13). Their oldest daughter (30) is engaged and lives in Georgia. Geri is assistant manager of a local health club and Eric is a mechanic who moonlights as a writer and blogger. They just celebrated their 25th anniversary. Erik blogs at erikmatlock.com. You can also connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.
How did you first meet?
We met in high school. Actually, we first noticed each other in high school. Geri was too hot for me to speak to, without tripping over my own words. Way out of my league since the first time I saw her. I still wake up an look at her with amazement. Sometimes I have to poke her, just to make sure she’s real. I am a blessed man.
Her brother was one of my best friends. One day, after high school, he suggested we go visit his sister. The rest is history. I didn’t want to see anyone else after that.
What was your first date? What encouraged you to keep dating?
The first date is kinda debatable. We sorta had a first date where I wandered off from a party and she came looking for me. I had just told God that if He had a perfect person for me, He would have to put her in front of me. Then she walked up…
The real first date was a kidnapping. I drove her to see some extremely weird people she knew. I didn’t want to be there, so I stole her purse and threw it in the back of my van. I cranked it up and told her I was leaving. She said ok, then I asked if she wanted her purse. When she climbed in to get it, I dropped the clutch and took off with her in the van. We’ve been together ever since.
What was your most memorable date ever and what made it so outstanding?
The kidnapping was pretty memorable. The night on Jekyll Island was amazing. The Superbowl date on Tybee Island was enough to make all my buddies jealous. Just us, a large pizza and cable in a beachfront hotel. There’s plenty more. We date a lot. They are all outstanding because I have her all to myself. We married young, had kids young, missed a lot of those younger years to have fun without responsibilities. Trying to make up for it.
How do other people describe you as a couple?
No idea. One friend call us his “go to” couple. We are the guys who have survived everything and still love each other. He says we are an inspiration.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome as a couple and how has that shaped your marriage? How would you advise another couple facing a similar thing?
Ha. That’s exactly why I write the blog. Erikmatlock.com is almost nothing but stories of things we have overcome. We had ten good years, ten really bad years, divorce papers at twenty years and still survived. The biggest obstacle was my attitude and screwed up priorities. I didn’t understand Ephesians 5:25 (Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her). I didn’t love my family the right way. She tolerated it for twenty years. Then she had enough.
I advise men to love their brides like Christ loved the church. Selflessly. Sacrificially. Making sure she knows she is loved. Pursuing her and learning her. Learning to love without expectations or demands. Making your bride your first ministry.
I found my purpose within my own family. Almost twenty years of chasing butterflies and rainbows almost cost me my family. Trying to impress everyone else, making my family wait, pushing them aside to find some other purpose wasted a whole lot of time. My life matters because it matters to them. Being a husband and father is the best part of my life, and the first. My wife saved my life by demanding a divorce. If she hadn’t stood up to me, I would still be the same angry and abusive jerk I had become. We really did survive the impossible. We really do grow stronger every day. I am very much in love with her. We want women to know it’s possible. We want guys to know it’s possible. We want to see more men step up and be the kind of husbands God had called them to be. That’s about it.
What marriage resources have helped your relationship the most?
We went through several counselors. They all had the same pitch. They all had to admit that the real work of saving a marriage always falls to the more mature and responsible spouse. Almost always the wife. The women always get the most pressure in counseling. It didn’t help us because I was 99% of the problem.
Joel and Kathy Davisson of bestmarriage.com were the first ones to stand up to me and tell me it was may fault. They didn’t accept my excuses or explanations. They taught me that headship means that I am supposed to be the source of life. Not a tyrant demanding submission. They taught me to let go of my ridiculous expectations and past failures. They taught me how to love my bride. They taught me how to save my family.
(Steve, here. Erik’s marriage book, 21 Days to Save My Family, is a great resource and is available through his online store and on Create Space.)
Tell us about an “Aha!” moment that you have had in your marriage and how that has helped you become a better spouse.
There were two.
No Expectations. If I truly love my wife, I love because I love her. Not because of anything she does or doesn’t do. I was upset with her because I expected responses to all my goodness. I expected her to respond in certain ways and got mad when she didn’t. After that one, it didn’t even matter when the divorce papers showed up. I was going to love her and do good for her regardless of how she responded. It changed everything.
Let it go. My family is notorious for holding grudges and expecting things to be resolved. I felt like everyone owed me an apology. I was angry at everyone for failing me. Kathy told me that I could let it all go and move on. Then I did. Wow.
What is something you are most proud to have created together?
Those kids. Our kids amaze me. I am so proud of them and all they do. They teach me things and encourage me. It’s humbling to even look at them.
What is one of the most inspiring or rewarding experiences you have ever had together?
The day we talked it through and decided that we were tearing up the divorce papers. When we decided that we could make it work and start over. We did the impossible.
What would you do for a last minute date night together?
We don’t really have last minute dates. We have a regular date night. Even if it only means a walk or a movie at home, we have each other alone one night every week. There are regular spots we like. There’s a great little taco shop we love. If there’s a movie out that we both want to see, we do that. Sometimes it’s karaoke night. Sometimes it’s shopping. She’s a fitness junkie, so it might even be a class at the gym. Whatever it is, it’s us together. No kids. Just us.
We also do a regular family night. It usually involves snacks or dinner and a movie at the house. We have an epic collection of movies from over six years of regular family nights.
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